A Belgian at a Dutch CPD-event for teachers of English 

17/10/2022 - 21:56

On Monday 3 October, BELTA member and speaker Mario Lecluyze attended the “Nationaal Congres Engels”, the Dutch counterpart of BELTA Day. Mario shared his thoughts about this CPD-event in his article for the BELTA Blog. Thank you, Mario!

A Belgian at a Dutch CPD-event for teachers of English

by Mario Lecluyze

On Monday 3 October, I attended the “Nationaal Congres Engels” in the Dutch town of Ede (Gelderland). It was my first live CPD-event since the corona virus topsy-turvied our world. It felt absolutely fantastic to attend live sessions again, and to be able to communicate face-to-face with both participants and speakers. I noticed that retaining things also went a lot easier than when gazing at a webinar.


This one-day conference resembles our Belgian BELTA Day a lot. It aims at professionally developing (mainly Dutch) teachers of English with international speakers, a plenary, a wide choice of workshops, a publisher exhibition and exciting networking opportunities whilst having a coffee, tea or lunch.

There are however also a few differences. An, in my opinion, important one is that it takes place on a weekday, not at the weekend. Participants were given the day off by the school management to join, which probably results in more teachers taking this opportunity. Having the choice between three so called “subplenaries” is another interesting difference.


In his interesting plenary, Thom Kiddle (director with testing company NILE) had a look at the professional competences English teachers will need in the upcoming years.

A first competence has to do with the awareness of the changed position of the English language. Nowadays our students are exposed to lots of different “Englishes”. Teachers should in this respect adapt their way of looking at and teaching the language.

According to Kiddle, teachers also need to master better literacy when it comes to assessing students’ language. They need to consider the link between teaching, learning and assessment. In this respect, he quoted Cameron (1963!): “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Kiddle also stressed the importance of the physical conditions in a classroom, referring to the “learnometer” of Stephen Heppell. Light levels, temperature and humidity, sound volume, air pollution and CO2-levels do have an effect on our students’ learning, and are to be taken into account.

Digital literacy was the fourth competence and challenge Kiddle put into the spotlight. He advocated a principled approach, in which the current digital overload is properly managed. It is better to use a few apps or sites that work for you as a teacher than to try out a hundred. He also pointed out the CEFR-descriptors on “digital age language”.

Finally, Kiddle underlined the importance of integrating language and content. “If you want to teach a language, teach something else.” In this respect he also stressed the importance of CLIL and teaching mediation skills.


In the subplenary I had chosen, teacher, author and teacher trainer Kirsten Waechter elaborated on Kiddle’s first competence and the world of “Englishes”. She first criticised the often still conventional approach in teaching materials in which the Anglo-American culture dominates. Native speakers are still mistakenly presented as experts, even when 74 per cent of English interaction in tourism takes place between non-natives.

Waechter tried to convince us to explore how pluricultural today’s teaching of English should be, drawing upon the CEFR-descriptors of the recent “companion volume”. As teachers we need to develop our students’ competence of creating a shared space, and teach them how to deal with cultural differences. In this respect, she advocated teaching English as a Lingua Franca, failing however to tell us how this should be done.

She did however urge publishers to make changes in their teaching materials. They should include a high number of non-native speakers, use global setting for the scenarios, and include different kinds of intercultural aspects.


The two workshops I had selected dealt with so-called “visible thinking routines”. Both Dave Spencer (Macmillan Education) and Alex Warren (Cengage) used examples from their coursebooks to illustrate how we can incorporate these routines to develop our students’ critical and creative cognitive skills, but also to stimulate meaningful discussion involving all students.

The very practical classroom routines are the result of the so-called “Project Zero” of Harvard University, and can all be found and downloaded as PDF at https://pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines. An interesting treasure trove, although a lot of those routines made me think of the work of Kagan’s cooperative learning strategies; some even have the same names.

Because of the high practicality of these routines, and the need to demonstrate and experience them, it is very difficult to summarise them in this blogpost. But names such as “ see-think-wonder”, “sentence-phrase-word”, “3-2-1 bridge”, “4Cs”, “compass points”, “interview the picture”, “the three whys”, etc., surely can tempt you to explore the above website. And, why not, I might turn some of them into a workshop myself.


Mario Lecluyze is a teacher of English with over 35 years of experience. He worked as a teacher trainer and lecturer (methodology English & CLIL) at VIVES University College (Torhout) and was an educational adviser for English and CLIL (Katholiek Onderwijs Vlaanderen) and a member of the English curriculum commission for the first and second stages of secondary education. He has attended and given workshops on several topics, both in Belgium and abroad.